Someone went off and started asking people what their greatest weaknesses are, then someone else decided to pass the question my way. Perhaps those someones’ weaknesses are curiosity… Still, since everyone else is revealing their darkest secrets, I’ll give it a go as well.
Mine would have to be two very closely related things. Procrastination and short attention span. (why do you think this post is 4 days late?)
I tend to put stuff off until the absolute last minute (and sometimes beyond then) and then work frantically to get it finished. And because I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, I’m not satisfied with half-done work or a hack job so I’ll be working late into the night (or over a weekend) to get it done properly.
To add to that, unless I’m doing something I really enjoy, my attention span tends not to be very long. 15-20 minutes is good, it’s usually less. After that it’s either fight to stay focused or take a short break. In and of itself, that’s not so bad, the problem is that the breaks are often not so short, if I get caught up in whatever else I’m doing, or distracted by something else (and something else and something else).
So what am I doing about this?
Well, firstly, I have no solutions. There are things that I’m doing that are helping, but I won’t say they are general solutions.
I’m splitting big tasks up into small (very small) chunks and setting deadlines for those chunks. Sometimes more than one a day. That way, everything should be done at the last minute, so I can’t put things off, much.
This works fairly well if I have a lot of things to do. It doesn’t tend to work well for me when I’ve got relatively few things that need doing and lots of time to do them in. Still, it is helping, as long as I take the time to break work down and list small tasks. I do need to apply a bit more discipline here to make sure that I do break work down and I do adhere to the tasks deadlines.
This one’s harder. While I can push through when I start losing focus, it’s difficult and gets more difficult as time goes on.
Because I know that I can’t focus on one thing straight through for hours, I’ll usually have two thing that I’m busy with that I can switch between. For example I’ll have an SSIS package that I’m developing and a profile trace that I’m analysing and I can switch between them.
What I have to be careful about is time-consuming non-work related distractions. Which, seeing as I work from home with a big shelf of books behind me and an xbox in the lounge can be difficult. But that comes down to discipline. No games during the day. No more than an hour of gaming over supper when there’s work that needs doing.
This is also why, even though I’ve joined the Twitter madness, the Twitter client is closed for most of the day. It’s also why I’ve started closing Outlook for most of the day. If the clients want me urgently, they’ll phone. Mail can always wait a couple of hours.